To the Center of the World and Back Again

Last week my friend, Leslie, from Alaska came to visit. It has been quite some time since I have seen her and we had a great  week together. Lots of walking and talking and catching up.

There is a trend happening with my visitors now. They come to visit and the next thing I know we are off in my cute little Roadtrek (RV) and traveling and camping. I bet you guessed it, Leslie and I took a couple of days and headed east of San Diego for a mini-adventure.

Church on the Hill, Felicity

Church on the Hill, Felicity

I know that I mentioned the town of Felicity, CA in a previous post. On the north side of interstate 8 approximately 10 miles west of Yuma, AZ sits a small church on a man-made hill. I have noticed this church every time I have driven that section of highway. With Leslie and myself up for adventure we drove the 3 hours to the town of Felicity. It was the beginning of a fun three days in the desert.

Felicity is an unincorporated town with approximately 9 part time residents. Jacques-Andres Instal owns thousands of acres from interstate 8 north to the Chocolate Mountains. He loved this section of barren desert so he decided that he wanted to create a town and make it legally the Center of the World. In 1985 he was able to have the Imperial County set a law that Felicity is the Official Center of the World. To support this claim Instal wrote a children’s book Coe the Magic DragonThis law was recognized by the Institut Geographic National of the Government of France in 1989. Jacques is also the mayor of his town.

There is a small bronzed plaque that stands within a 21 foot pyramid. I stood inside the pyramid on the bronze plaque and made a wish and was given a certificate declaring I had stood at the Center of the World. Leslie followed so now we can say we have been there and back.

Center of The World

Center of The World

Janet & Leslie at the Center of the World

Janet & Leslie at the Center of the World

Standing at the Center of the World

Standing at the Center of the World

North of the pyramid, when completed, will be over 400 granite walls with history of the world engraved on each side. Some of them are completed now. Because Instal served in the Korean War there is also a Korean War Memorial. Another wall is dedicated to the History of the French Foreign Legion. Yes, you guessed it, Instal was also part of the French Foreign Legion.  All of this history is according to the Mayor. Another wall that is not completed yet will supply the names of anyone who wants to pay $300. You too can be immortalized.

Beyond all of this is a man-made, earthquake-proof hill. They moved 150,000 tons of earth to create this hill. No town is complete without a church. On top of the hill stands a non-denominational chapel. It is very mediterranean in design and feel. People come here to get married.

Janet, Leslie and Jacques

Janet, Leslie and Jacques

All of this was created by Jacques. When we started to ask Felicia, Instal’s wife, questions she told us not to question just believe. At the end of our visit we met the Mayor of Felicity, Jacques Instal. He was a delightful older gentleman, maybe a bit eccentric yet he has created quite a place. And not everyone can say they have been to the Center of the World and back.

If you want to explore Felicity in more depth click on Felicity to go to the official web site. Felicity

After spending the night in a small RV park in Brawley, CA (I mean, really, who camps in Brawley)we moved on north to the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea region was part of the Gulf of California until about 4.4 million years ago.  The Colorado River silt eventually blocked off the gulf and separated the region from the Pacific Ocean. The Salton Sea was created between 1905 and 1907 when the Colorado River broke through diversion canals in the irrigation system in Imperial County. It is a dead sea and is dependent on the river and rain. What is really interesting and good for bird watchers are the millions of birds that winter on this lake. Leslie and I found a great spot to watch all the activity. It was a great morning.

Photos of the Salton Sea

IMG_3172 IMG_3173 IMG_3166 IMG_3149

Hiking in the Wash

Hiking in the Wash

Celebrating Hanukkah

Celebrating Hanukkah

From there we moved on in to the  Anza Borrego Desert, one of my favorite deserts. It is so alive. We boondocked at one of my favorite back country campsites. After a day of rain on our first day, the washes were clean and fun to hike. Leslie and I celebrated Hanukkah in my RT in the Desert. I learned a lot this week and I was honored to celebrate this event with Les.

On our last day we drove into Borrego Springs and I was able to show Leslie the Galleta Meadows Sculptures that are scattered around the town.The late Dennis Avery, owner of the Meadows envisioned the idea of adding free-standing art to his property with original steel welded sculptures created by Ricardo Breceda. These sculptures are amazing and fun to look at.


Galletta Meadows

We ended our few days in Descanso visiting friends of Leslie’s. It was a good dinner and great conversation in a beautiful adobe home in the mountains east of San Diego.

You may think that we covered some territory in three days, and we did. The nicest part was that it never felt rushed. I am frequently asked how it is to travel with someone else in my small very cute RT. It has been a good experience every time I have traveled with a friend. Usually when I am traveling with someone we have a conversation before we leave so both of us are aware of the limited space we will live in/ I enjoy other people’s company. It is a time where we can connect and talk and share each other’s lives and enjoy the beauty of nature and the unique places along the way.

Each friend, each person I meet continue to help me find my way into my new life. And…it is often fun. I am very glad that I went to the Center of the World and back.

To view all photos from this trip click below.

Center of the World



2 thoughts on “To the Center of the World and Back Again

  1. Felicity! Fun! Looked like a fun trip. Hanukkah in the desert, how perfect. So glad you both had a great trip.

    Your posts are inspiring, I can’t wait to hit the road. Baja 2015!

  2. Very interesting places. Who knew the center of the world was in CA. Best wishes this holiday season. I look forward to more of your stories in the new year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.